Estate tax dilemma – Issue high on Bush’s agenda

Charities are too afraid of offending their donors to oppose the repeal of the estate tax, the Wall Street Journal reported August 10.

Repealing the tax would most likely reduce contributions to many charities. Nonprofits who openly oppose repeal risk offending their wealthiest donors, however, who are those hit hardest by the tax.

President Clinton has promised to veto the repeal bill, and an immediate override is not likely. The issue is high on the agenda of GOP hopeful Gov. George W. Bush, however, and may return to Congress next year.

Clinton and other Democrats are hoping to score political points by highlighting the possible damage to charitable giving. Clinton frequently cites U.S. Treasury estimates that repealing the estate tax would cut charitable contributions by $5 billion to $6 billion a year.

A recent study by charity groups also showed that bequests would have fallen by $3 billion, or 35 percent, in 1996 if the estate tax had been repealed.

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